British Columbia

Hundreds of homes ordered evacuated in the Kootenays due to rising rivers

Heavy rainfall, snowmelt and rising rivers have led to an "unprecedented" alert covering nearly all the Regional District of Central Kootenay in B.C., and hundreds of homes received evacuation orders on Sunday.

Evacuation orders cover parts of Salmo, Ymir, Crawford Bay, rural Grand Forks and Cawston in the Okanagan

Sandbags are prepared in Grand Forks, B.C., on Sunday. (Bob Keating/CBC)

UPDATE ⁠— June 1, 2020: Evacuation orders remain in place for hundreds of southern B.C. properties on Monday morning, while Environment Canada has lifted all of its weather alerts for the province. Find our latest coverage here.

Heavy rainfall, snowmelt and rising rivers in the Kootenays have led to evacuation orders on more than 500 properties as of Sunday at 10 p.m. PT and an "unprecedented" evacuation alert covering nearly all the Regional District of Central Kootenay in B.C.

The largest number of evacuation orders are in the West Kootenay, where the entire watershed was under flood warning, which means river levels have exceeded their banks or will do so imminently, according to the River Forecast Centre.

There are also orders in place in rural Grand Forks, in the Kootenay-Boundary region, and for one property in Cawston, where the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen has declared a local state of emergency.

Evacuation orders are in place for the following areas as of 10 p.m. Sunday:

Residents and visitors are required to leave the affected areas immediately, and should check the evacuation order for the exact addresses affected and instructions on where to go. 

The Regional District of Central Kootenay is directing residents from each evacuated area to check in with specific hotels, to access short-term assistance and emergency support.

"Due to COVID-19 we ask everyone to do their best to practice physical distancing and wash or sanitize their hands regularly," each order states.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, which covers Grand Forks, is not opening reception centres due to COVID-19. Evacuees are encouraged to stay with friends or family if possible, and will be contacted directly by B.C. Emergency Support Services.

From Saturday night into Sunday, heavy rains battered the region, turning rivers from blue to brown.

On Sunday morning Environment Canada said in a statement that a thunderstorm moving up from Washington State could cause rising rivers, downed trees, flash flooding, and that it could be dangerous to work outside.

A severe thunderstorm warning was also in effect for the Elk Valley region, with strong wind gusts and heavy rain.

A tiger dam is installed in downtown Grand Forks, B.C. on Sunday. (Bob Keating/CBC)
A flood watch is also in effect for the Slocan River, Salmo River and surrounding tributaries as water levels are rising and could breach the banks.  (Lisa Johnson/CBC)




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